Wholetime firefighter FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions that you may find useful when learning about the role of wholetime firefighter.

Is there an age limit?

There is no upper age limit but you must be aged 18 when the training course starts.

Can I continue/commence secondary employment whilst working for Avon Fire & Rescue Service?

All employees, with the exception of those on the retained duty system (on-call) must not undertake any outside work, either paid or unpaid without the permission of the Chief Fire Officer. Secondary employment must not be conducted during the initial training and development period, which is the first two years of employment.

Why do applicants have to live within the Avon Fire & Rescue Service area?

There are many reasons for this. An important aspect of the firefighter role is to work within the community. If you live within our area, you will have a better understanding of our communities and this will assist you within the role. In addition, firefighters are required to work at any of our fire stations and it has proven difficult in the past if firefighters live outside of the travel to work area.

How can I check if I live in the Avon Fire & Rescue Service area?

Our Service covers Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset (BANES), South Gloucestershire and North Somerset local authority areas. If you live on the boundary line, we will accept your application. If after checking the map using the button below, you remain uncertain as to whether you live within the designated area, please contact us.

If I move to the Service area can I apply?

You will need to be able to provide evidence that you live in our Service area at the start of our application process.

Why are we encouraging applications from women and people from BAME backgrounds?

At Avon Fire & Rescue Service we think it’s important our workforce is representative of the communities we serve. We are therefore encouraging applications from groups currently under-represented within the workforce, particularly women and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

We will be taking additional steps to ensure we raise awareness of firefighting as a career among under-represented groups, as we want the very best people to be our next generation of firefighters. It’s about ensuring the pool of talent we have to choose from is as wide as possible and encouraging people to apply who perhaps never thought a career in the fire and rescue service is for them.

Once an application is made, every candidate will be considered on merit, regardless of their background.

I have a medical condition, can I still apply?

We employ firefighters who have medical conditions. However, there are some significant medical conditions which could preclude you from becoming a firefighter. If you wish to discuss this confidentially, please contact our HR team by email or phone on 01179 262061. We would encourage you to enquire prior to applying so we can advise whether you are likely to meet the medical criteria. Some conditions such as asthma may preclude you if your symptoms are triggered by exercise or environmental factors. However, whilst HR can provide general advice, the final decision can only be made by a doctor at the medical stage of the selection process. If you pass all stages of the selection process you will be invited to complete a health questionnaire and attend a medical. The occupational health doctor or nurse will help us determine if you are fit to safely become a firefighter.

I have a criminal conviction, will this prevent me from applying?

As part of this role, you will be required to undertake an Enhance with Barred Check list DBS check.  This will identify any spent and unspent convictions and cautions, a review of any police intelligence and barred list.

Some spent and unspent convictions and cautions may preclude you from the role of wholetime/on-call firefighter. Should you have any questions then please contact a member of our Human Resources department: [email protected].

Do I need a driving licence?

You will not be required to hold a current UK driving licence in order to apply. However, you will be expected to be able to travel to stations across our Service area. If you do not have a driving licence, there is the expectation that you will gain a driving licence within the first two years of employment and any offers of employment will be subject to this condition.

I have points on my driving license, can I still apply?

We will accept a maximum of 3 points on your license. Your driving license will be checked with the DVLA if you are offered a position. Therefore you must provide accurate information and if you have more than 3 points your application will not be accepted.

What shifts do firefighters work?

Wholetime crews work a shift pattern of two days, two nights and four days off. The day shifts run from 8am to 5pm, and the night shifts from 5pm to 8am. These shift patterns follow a coloured system – blue, green, white, red – and are set at the start of the year allowing staff to plan their whole year. Along with the wholetime pattern, we also offer day crewing at Yate fire station – this covers four days of 7am to 5:55pm and then four days off.

If I am successful, would I be placed at a station near where I live?

We would make every attempt to ensure your commute to work is manageable, however once successful we would need to place you where the demand is most needed.

Is the initial training course a residential course, would I be expected to stay?

We encourage applicants to stay at our facilities at Severn Park to support learning and development, however this is not mandatory.

I wear glasses/contact lenses, will I still be able to apply?

Glasses and/or (soft) contact lenses are permitted and your eyesight will be assessed during your medical. The standards are:

If you have any concerns about your eyesight or colour vision, you should check if you are likely to meet the required standards with your optician.

What about hearing standards?

Your hearing will be assessed during your medical. The following summative measures are used to assign an overall score for each ear (H1, H2, H3, H4 and H5). The worse ear is used for recruitment purposes, with levels H1 and H2 being acceptable. If you have any concerns about your hearing you should check if you are likely to meet the required standards with your GP or arrange a test through a private hearing test provider (e.g. Boots, Specsavers).

Hearing levelLF SumHF SumSpeech Sum
H1≤ 45 dB HL≤ 45 dB HL≤ 35 dB HL
H2≤ 60 dB HL≤ 80 dB HL≤ 60 dB HL (no value > 25 dB HL)
H3≤ 80 dB HL≤ 120 dB HL≤ 90 dB HL (no value > 40 dB HL)
H4< 120 dB HL≤ 150 dB HL≤ 120 dB HL
H5> 120 dB HL> 150 dB HL> 120 dB HL

I am dyslexic, will I still be able to apply?

If you are dyslexic you can apply. You must indicate that you are dyslexic where prompted on your application form so that reasonable adjustments can be considered for you. When you reach the written tests stage you may be provided with extra time to take the tests, if this is supported by evidence of your dyslexia which must be from an appropriate specialist.

What support will I get through application if I am dyslexic?

We can ensure reasonable adjustments are considered for you, please make sure you indicate that you are dyslexic when prompted on your application form. Upon application you will need to provide proof to receive reasonable adjustment, if you don’t already have a full assessment you may wish to consider QuickScans which is accredited by the British Dyslexia Association, the screening will cost you in the region of £14. When you reach the written tests stage you may be provided with extra time to take the tests if this is supported by evidence of your dyslexia which must be from an appropriate specialist.

How fit do I need to be?

You must have a good standard of upper body strength and fitness and maintain your fitness levels throughout your career as a firefighter. Your fitness will be assessed during the selection process to determine your strength. Additionally, your aerobic capacity must be at least a VO2 Max level of 42, this is the absolute minimum level of fitness we will accept. You are also required to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

How will I know how my application is progressing?

You will be informed of your position at each stage of the selection process; this will be by email however if you wish to receive this by post you must indicate this on your application form. Please do not contact us to check your progress, as we cannot respond to all queries due to the volume of applications.

How long is the training course?

The training course is 12 weeks in total.

I have tattoos, will this be a problem?

Body tattoos are acceptable, provided that they are not offensive and do not detract from the positive public image of the fire and rescue service.

What should I wear when invited to assessments?

There is no particular dress code, however you will be provided with any specific details when being invited to each assessment.

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